I signed up for Nano again this year. Can you read the stupid tattoo on my forehead? Yeah, thought so.
You see, I write slowly. For a slow writer to sign up for Nano is like being lactose intolerant at an all-you-can-drink-milkshake bar. Sooner or later there will be pain and suffering. Right now I’m about 6K behind where I should be and feel the belly punch when all my eager Nano buddies (check out the awesome Jamie Raintree *
secretly turns green cheers wildly*) skip around boasting 5K days… and ‘being ahead’ of where they’re meant to be. You go, buddies, you go! I’ll just keep plodding.
I’m always hoping to find a way to speed up. Looking at it analytically, there are many factors. I suspect my biggest issue is more about brain-space than writing ability. 3 kids, 2 jobs… I get talked at for a large part of each day. Not too much ‘quiet soil’ for ideas to germinate in. Not that I’m about to lay down and surrender to that excuse either. There has to be a way.
I have taken to planning more before I start writing than what I used to … I outline in the broadest sense the opening and closing, key events along the way. I live with my characters in my head for weeks, watching them under different circumstances, figuring out what makes them buzz. But even then, I have writing buddies who can plan entire novels, chapter by chapter and scene by scene, all the way from chapter 1 to those two lovely words – The End. I can’t do that.
For me, starting a novel is like standing outside an unfamiliar house. There are certain things you can tell from the outside – how many stories, is it a mansion or a hovel, built from cardboard boxes or fine marble… but the real adventure starts when you step through the front door. You discover that there are many doors leading off the passage. You get to open those doors and meet the characters, explore settings that make your work come alive.
My conundrum is this – writing the way I do works for me. My story has time to breathe itself into full-blown life. I write clean, my first drafts are never train-wrecks. And yet I feel strongly about increasing my output, which means I need to speed up.
What do you think?